This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Listening Library
Released on 10/9/18
When I was looking for a holiday listen, I was tickled to see this offered and jumped at the chance for a suspenseful dip into the Regency world below stairs during Yuletide. The gentry are about their revels and so are the servants until a footman goes missing and a fake coin turns up in the nearby market town.
Carols and Chaos turned out to be a follow-up companion novel to Suitors and Sabotage though now the story heads below stairs for a valet and lady’s maid to get their own romantic adventure. It probably would have had more meaning if I’d listened to the first book, but this one was still an engaging standalone.
It is December 1817 and Shackleford Park is hosting a houseparty involving Miss Imogene’s fiance and his family. Imogene’s lady’s maid, Kate Darby is excited to welcome along with her mistress’ guests, Matt Harlow, Ben Steeples’ valet. Before they can barely get up a flirtation, Matt’s friend Johnny gets swindled with a fake coin when a red-headed stranger bought his ring and then when he goes looking for the man, Johnny disappears. In between taking care of her mother, her duties to her lady, the estate Yuletide festivities, and thoughts of Matt, Kate is bustling about. Matt and Kate do their best around their duties to find Johnny and start fearing the worst.
The lavish historical backdrop and attention to authenticity was fabulous. It was an engaging look of life below stairs during the holiday season and how life in the serving class was conducted. The mystery wasn’t that difficult though there were some good surprises and suspenseful moments.
The set up of introducing the situation at Shackleford, Kate’s life as a local girl with family complications, and then the addition of the guests at the estate all made this one start slow and keep to that slower pace until near the end when things leaped into danger.
Kate and Matt were adorable and I was cheering for them to find a way to be together though they were in service at two different houses and, as servants, had to be careful about their reputations and keep their growing feelings hidden. They bantered and flirted, but also made a good team. There was a charm to their sweet Christmas romance.
Fiona Hardingham did a bang up job as a narrator for a cast of characters that included men and women and different classes. She even did varying degrees in the servant’s class to reflect their class structure, too. Some of her male voices were somewhat pinched, but I did enjoy her storytelling voice and her sense of tone and pacing. I would definitely listen to more of her work.
All in all, this first time with a new to me author was a big success. I enjoyed dipping into her Regency world and want to experience more. This is marked as YA, but I think adult historical romance fans would appreciate this one, too.
My thanks to Listening Library for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.
Several scenes in this book highlighted holiday entertainment for those staying on the estate. They would watch something entertaining and include food. Movies and snacks, anyone? It made me think of how I love to watch certain holiday movies every year. Here are some of my favs:
1. Hallmark’s The Christmas Card
2. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
3. Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
4. The Holiday
5. Charlie Brown Christmas What are some of yours?
Romance Roundabout #373 YA
New Release #192